A nutritious diet is important at any age. Making healthy food choices provides special benefits to seniors. Eating well promotes health and energy, improves digestion and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Making these healthy eating choices may be easier than you think. Assisted living facilities offer a variety of ready-made, healthy eating choices for seniors. If you live at home, you can create your own healthy meals by yourself or with the help of a home health care expert.
Simple Steps to Good Nutrition
Every senior can make two highly effective and very simple healthy eating choices right away, with absolutely no extra help, planning or expense – removing salt from the table and switching to whole grain breads. Lowering your salt intake is good for your heart; simply keeping the saltshaker out of view naturally reduces your sodium consumption. Whole grain breads are high in fiber that makes you feel fuller and optimizes your digestive system.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that older people who include at least 3 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables into their daily diet may:
• Receive some of the vitamins, minerals and fiber they need to maintain good health
• Maintain energy levels
• Maintain digestive regularity
• Prevent or delay the unhealthy effects of obesity, hypertension, heart disease and other chronic illnesses
• Enjoy a variety of flavors and colors
If you are like most people, you are becoming less active as
you age. Adjust your caloric intake according to your activity level to
maintain a healthy weight. The USDA provides specific guidelines regarding
calorie intake specially designed for individuals aged 60 to 74, categorized by
gender and activity level. For example, a woman who exercises less than a half
hour a day should consume only 1600 calories,
one who exercises for 45 minutes a day can take in 1,800 calories, and a
female who exercises for an hour each day can eat up to 2,200 calories daily. A
man who exercises for 30 minutes or less should restrict his diet to 2,000 to
2,200 calories, one who exercises for 45 minutes can consume up to 2,400
calories and a man who is physically active for more than an hour each day
should take in as much as 2,600 calories daily.
To lower your cholesterol and keep your heart in tip-top
shape, cut down on your beef intake and increase your consumption of fish. Opt
for lean cuts of chicken and pork whenever fish is not available.
Avoid empty calories, like those in chips, cookies, soda and
alcohol. These foods and drinks add to your waistline but provide little to no
nutrition. Satisfy your sweet tooth and cravings for crunchiness with some
fruit or nuts.
Considering Cost and Ease of Preparation
Some senior citizens worry about the expense and preparation
associated with choosing fresh foods over prepared entrees. Many frozen or
canned fruits and vegetables are healthy, as long as you avoid excessive
amounts of added sugar and salt.
Entrees can be especially problematic for many seniors living independently. Purchasing, cooking, and freezing home-cooked meals may not be a reasonable option for you anymore, even though you do well at performing other activities of daily living. Consider hiring a home health aide to do your grocery shopping, cooking and housework, to make it easier for you to enjoy nutritious meals at home without the inconvenience.